The final figure in the Thomas Ravenel cocaine scandal is expected to plead guilty to a drug conspiracy charge today in Columbia.

Italian citizen Pasquale Pellicoro will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine.

Pellicoro, 57, a one-time wine merchant and former Johns Island resident, faces up to 20 years in federal prison but is likely to receive much less.

He also is expected to be sentenced today. He could face possible deportation, court records warn.

Pellicoro was charged in 2007 alongside then-Republican S.C. Treasurer Thomas Ravenel with being a member of a Charleston cocaine ring. But before his case could be resolved, Pellicoro fled the country, remaining on the loose in Europe for three years. He was extradited to the United States this summer.

While Pellicoro remained at large in France, Ravenel spent 10 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine. Co-defendant Michael L. Miller, who was Ravenel's drug supplier, also was sentenced to 10 months.

Federal authorities say an informant led officials to Pellicoro. For the past two months, he has been held in a Midlands detention facility.

Pellicoro came to the United States in 1994 and worked in wine sales and sponsored wine tastings around Charleston in the years before his indictment.

The plea and sentencing hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m. with District Judge Joseph F. Anderson. Pellicoro was never formally charged for leaving the country.